This week I received photographs taken by my Aunt and Uncle, who recently returned from one of their treks, traveling into the Northern Territory.
Their enjoyment of travel and mine are quite different. I choose planes, hire cars, restaurants and 5 star hotels. They choose their 4 wheel drive, tent, makeshift shower and outdoor cooking facilities. They are very much “free spirits”. In their travels they have worked on homesteads, in local stores and service stations, all for free, to be part of Aboriginal communities.
It was timely to receive their photographs, as this week a 10 year plan was put forward to ban tourists from climbing Uluru, one of Australia’s natural icons and a World Heritage Site and most importantly, a sacred site to the Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people. Also known as Ayers Rock (named after the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Henry Ayers), it is situated in the Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.
Standing 348m high, the Rock and Park are jointly managed by the local Anangu people and Parks Australia who request that visitors don’t walk up Uluru, because it is a sacred site. It is estimated that 100,000 people climb the rock each year, approximately one third of the number of visitors to the park.
Australia’s Environment Minister, Peter Garrett believes the ban would have no effect on the number of visitors to the area, stating “you can take in all the fantastic beauty and cultural significance of the site without having to climb it”.
Well said Mr Garrett. I believe the ban should be imposed. When each of the Marquette Turner team has visited Uluru we have all respected Aboriginal wishes and not climbed it. This is a sacred site that has been here longer than us. It’s important we respect, save and preserve our heritage.
Photos courtesy Verna and Kevin